Sibelius’ Korppoo Piano trio was performed for the first time in the United States, as far as anyone knows, on October 4 in St John’s Episcopal Church in Park Slope, Brooklyn. According to Marja Kaisla, who introduced the program, this was one of over 200 concerts in the US celebrating Jean Sibelius in this, the 150th anniversary year of his birth.
The first part of the concert featured Piano Trio Opus no 1 in E flat by Ludwig van Beethoven. This long but lovely classical piece was played by Ms. Kaisla, Mr. Iivonen and Mr. Larsen; it was followed by a modern composition by Reena Ismail. Composers have always drawn from their own folk heritage – think Grieg, Sibelius, and Bartok, for instance – and Ms. Ismail has done so from her Indian heritage, specifically from two folk songs sung in her family, resulting in a lovely melodious blend delivered beautifully by Paul Kerekes on piano and Melanie Clapies on violin.
Sibelius’ “ Korppoo” (the name of a large island in south-western Finland) is one of the composer’s earlier pieces, composed in his late 20’s. This piece was played off of hand-written notes with special permission by the Sibelius family by a trio consisting of Marja Kaisla on piano, Petteri Iivonen on violin, and Benjamin Larsen on cello. It was performed in the second half of the concert. In the first movement (Allegro moderato), Ms. Kaisla played the sequences of rapid notes with nimble fingers and a lightness bringing to mind raindrops in the summer. The second movement, “Fantasia” is quite long, and despite the piece as a whole being in D Major, consisted of segments in minor key with different moods, with stretches of wistful melodies carried by the violin alternating with the cello; followed by drama and pathos like an autumn storm; again changing to calm and reflection. The Finale (Vivace) brought back the happy major key and its rapid tempo gave a chance for all the musicians to show off their technical skills as well.
The church is large and has a high vaulted ceiling, providing good acoustics and is excellent as a concert venue. Check out www.concertsontheslope.com for more events like this!